Category Archives: pickering

Bread Rises

SF-SourdoughRising to the Occasion
Michael Pickering

My wife Judy baked bread recently for our annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon at Pickering Labs.  She’s an excellent baker, and her Irish Soda Bread is a favorite addition to the corned beef and cabbage “traditional” fare.  Soda bread uses baking soda instead of yeast as the rising agent for the dough.  In addition to baking soda, her recipe also calls for flour, salt, and buttermilk.  This is typical for soda bread, as the buttermilk contains the lactic acid required for the ‘rising’ reaction with the sodium bicarbonate. 

Having grown up in Southern California, I have fond childhood memories of another special kind of bread – Salt-Rising Bread.  This denser bread relies on the fermentation of salt-tolerant bacteria in cornmeal.  The cornmeal must be freshly stone ground, and the dry ingredients also include sugar and salt.  The starter is formed as scalded milk is poured over the dry ingredients, and then left to incubate for about twelve hours at 100 or so degrees.  Despite its name, salt is a relatively minor ingredient in the bread. 

The Van de Kamp’s bakery had a rich history which straddled my own childhood and years living in the greater Los Angeles area.  Although the bakery was originally sold by the Van de Kamp family back in the 1950’s when Theodore Van de Kamp died, the Dutch windmill style bakeries and fresh salt-rising bread remained a warm memory for many of us Southern California children.  When accompanying my mom to buy our bread, I was treated on more than one occasion to a free windmill toy and a cookie. 

By the mid-1970’s, the Van de Kamp bakeries had stopped baking the salt-rising bread I grew up on, but by that point I had left Southern California and moved up to the Bay Area, a region where the Van de Kamp bread had been seldom offered and shortly went out of business.  However, in San Francisco, sourdough bread reigned supreme and had since the California Gold Rush.

Sourdough bread also uses natural microbes as a rising agent, but the longer fermentation of the starter allows the Lactic Acid produced by the Lactobacillus to give the bread a uniquely sour taste.  Naturally occurring yeasts such as Saccharomyces exigua and Saccharomyces cerevisiae also participate in the rising.  Sourdough yeasts work slower than today’s packaged yeasts, increasing the time needed for fermentation to multiple days.  San Francisco sourdoughs are usually kept closer to 70 degrees and often need a week to become stabilized.

Flour and water are combined in the starter, and various methods for introducing micro-organisms and stabilizing the dough are used.  Often times, boiled potatoes are used to help increase the activity of the bacteria.  Creating a sourdough starter is a baker’s science, and each recipe is unique and starter closely monitored.  As a result, bakers are often using “mother dough” that is many years old.  Some bakeries, such as the Boudin Bakery, are able to trace their “mother dough” back to the Gold Rush era. 

During the 1980’s, as modern food processes and general business consolidation trended, San Francisco bakeries fell into the hardship of competition with prepackaged bread.  Smaller bakeries were driven out of business, and the long-term survivors tended to be the larger bakeries with well-established distribution channels.  I moved to Oregon during this time, and my observations upon returning to the Bay Area some years later made it clear that there was a stark change in the availability of good local sourdough bread.  Fortunately for my family, Judy was at the peak of her baking heyday during this time and we were seldom lacking in good bread around my house!

Fast forward to now, and the artisan bread movement has brought back the ability to purchase good, hand-made loaves of bread.  Specialty bakeries have been started and thrive in high numbers.  Even restaurants and grocery stores are taking the time to bake their own bread.  I personally continue to feel that no sourdough of modern San Francisco origin can compete to the distinct sour taste and texture of earlier days, but there is no Pickering starter dough dating back to 1970 lurking in my refrigerator, so I make do with what’s available.  It is my sincere hope that the continued evolution of artisan bread, gastronomy, and the souring culture will ultimately recreate my ideal sourdough again soon. 

Until then, at least we can look forward to St. Patrick’s Day each year, when Judy will rise to the occasion and bake a unique bread to treat us all again!


2013 Pickering Laboratories North American Catalog

Our latest Catalog for North America is now available!

Click on the link to download the latest product Catalog from Pickering Laboratories, Inc.

Pickering Catalog:

Inside our catalog you will find a complete product listing for all instruments and consumables we currently have available. From Sample Cleanup to Post-Column Derivatization, to artificial Perspiration and Saliva, we hope you find something you will find useful!

A Brief Report on the European Pesticide Residue Workshop in Strasbourg, France

By Laszlo Torma
The 8th European Pesticide Residue Workshop (EPRW 2010) was held in Strasbourg, FR on June 20-24, 2010. As usual, EPRW 2010 was a great success and it was a productive and worthwhile meeting.

First, I would like to share a little information about Strasbourg. The city is the capital of region which was part of the Holy Roman Empire and later annexed by France. In more recent history, Alsace changed hands four times between France and Germany in 75 years. Although the historical language of Alsace is Alsatian, a Germanic language, today most Alsatians speak French and only about 40% of the adult population is fluent in Alsatians. Strasbourg is the seat of several European Institution such as the European Parliament, the Council of Europe (with its European Court of Human Rights) and others.

Back to the meeting; EPRW meets every 2 years and in my opinion, it gets better and larger each time. In spite of the global economic down turn, there were about 500 participant and 30 exhibitors representing all the continents. The Scientific Organizing Committee has assembled a great program, including 29 oral presentations, more than 200 posters and a number of vendor sessions. Scientists from all over the world were represented and participated in various discussions to exchange new ideas in the area of pesticide regulations, residue monitoring, new analytical techniques and methodology. I enjoyed the high quality posters that have been presented. These posters demonstrated the desire of many scientists to share their practical and fundamental know how with the participant during the workshop. And last but certainly not least, I had the opportunity to work with our European distributor, LCTech from Germany and to visit with our mutual customers.

Pickering Laboratories rolls out up-grade to Pinnacle PCX: New Sigma Series, by Mike Gottschalk

The Pinnacle PCX Delta Series post-column derivatization instrument was first introduced in January 2005 to replace the PCX 5200 instrument. The Pinnacle PCX introduction brought new technologies to post-column systems including programmable temperature gradient column oven, inert flow path, reactor coil cartridge switching system, computer controlled software among others.

With the inclusion of the column temperature gradient feature, our amino acid analysis time for hydrolysates was reduced by half from 60 minutes to 30 minutes. In addition to improved analysis speed the ability to change reactor volumes easily made the Pinnacle PCX ideal for method development and application switching.

The development team at Pickering has been working behind the scenes to improve and expand the advantages of the Pinnacle PCX. Now with the confluence of several new features and improvements a complete series up-grade is occurring to the Sigma Series.

Notable improvement highlights:

  • Fully ROHS compliant – the European Union directive to eliminate toxic compounds in electronic equipment.
  • Power cooling – additional fans and air ducts have been developed to speed airflow in the column oven for faster cooling.
  • USB connection to PC – in addition to the Ethernet and relay connections USB has been added.
  • Pinnacle PCX Software version includes 4 day log files for over the weekend log files, timer algorithm that runs independent of the system clock in the PC.
  • PEEK Front end on the pumps to prevent corrosion.
  • Injected composite parts – Column oven door and instrument base are 50 % lighter – saving on shipping costs.

Best of all the work flow of all methods are unaffected and migration of existing methods to the new Sigma series is seamless.

Pickering continually improves the components and manufacturability of all our products to provide the best analytical tools in the industry.

International Connections, by Laszlo Torma

The “Pickering Brand”

The “Pickering Brand” is well known all over the world. Thanks to our customers and our dedicated distributers, Pickering Laboratories instruments and methods are utilized in more and more countries. In order for us to offer better service and communication we have been expanding our participation at international meetings.

Pickering Laboratories is regularly represented at the Latin American Pesticide Residue Workshop (LAPRW). The first LAPRW was held in Brazil (2007) and Wendy Rasmussen and I were representing our company. We worked with Roberto de Souza Cruz of Cromatec. The second LAPRW (2009) was in Argentina and David Mazawa and I were representing Pickering Laboratories. We visited our distributer Victorio Bogunovich of Analytical Technologies. We had great cooperation from Analytical Technologies; sharing booth space during the meeting and were able to visit their facility. In Argentina the level of interest and knowledge of participants was much better than the first workshop. At both meetings we had the pleasure to meet lots of interesting people. In Latin America, like other parts of the world many Laboratories are struggling to purchase high performance and high cost instruments. In Argentina during a general discussion, many people expressed their anger about the very high cost of instruments like LC/MS/MS and requested reliable methods with affordable instruments. Latin American countries are using large amounts of glyphosate and are interested in reliable analytical methods in crop and environmental samples. It seems to me that glyphosate is an emotional and political issue in Argentina. The next LAPRW meeting is in Montevideo, Uruguay in 2011.

In 2009, David Mazawa attended BCEIA, China’s largest conference on analytical instruments. David worked with our distributer Ameritech and enjoyed meeting potential customers and as well as their hospitality. You can read more about this trip in our January 2010 Newsletter.

Recently Wendy Rasmussen and David Mazawa represented Pickering Laboratories at Analytica in Germany. Analytica is similar to PITTCON but they meet every second year and it has become larger than PITTCON in recent years. Wendy and David were assisting our distributer and business partner LCTech GmbH during the show. They also received training on LCTech’s new products that we are marketing in the USA.

Wendy Rasmussen and David Mazawa represented Pickering Laboratories at Analytica in Germany

Wendy, David, and the LCTech team at Analytica

In April, Wendy and I attended the Western Canada Trace Organic Workshop in Vancouver, Canada. We are presented 2 posters; and Wendy gave a presentation on “Sample Clean-Up with Immunoaffinity columns and Gel Permeation Chromatogphy”. We had a great time and we especially were glad to meet with our distributor, Chromatographic Specialties as well as some current and (hopefully!) future customers. Chromatographic Specialties have a great product range and offer wonderful support all accross Canada.

In June, I will attend the European Pesticide Residue Workshop (EPRW2010) in France. This will be my fourth EPRW meeting. EPRW meets every two years alternating with LAPRW. I will work with our distributor LCTech and visit with our customers. Scientists and pesticide regulators from all over the world will attend this meeting because it is considered by many to be the best pesticide residue workshop. In addition to the Europeans, the attendees are from Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. This meeting allows me an opportunity to visit with laboratory personnel with different scientific backgrounds, from different parts of the world.

And last but not least, we are regularly participating as exhibiters and presenters at PITTCON and AOAC International. Even though these meetings are in the USA there are lots of foreign scientists attending and this gives us additional opportunity to cultivate our relationship with them.

Ion Pair

We have two new additions to our Pickering Family, Oso and Valentino, our new unofficial company mascots.

The “Ion Pair” born Feb 14, 2010:

New puppies called Ion Pair

Gloria Garcia, the Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Operations here at Pickering adopted these two MaltiPoo (part Maltese, part Poodle) puppies last month and brought them into our office.

“Oso” is Spanish for “bear”, because he was the largest of the litter and looks a little bit like a little bear.

“Valentino” is named for the day on which they were born: Valentine’s Day.

New! GARD: Column Protection System

A new Column protection system for Cation-exchange HPLC applications will be unveiled exclusively at Pittcon this year.

The new GARD™ manufactured by Pickering Laboratories is a substantial improvement over the standard packed guards. The new GARD™ adds little pressure, is invisible to the chromatography, and has substantially more capacity for strongly retained compounds that can foul the analytical column.

The new GARD Column Protection System significantly prolongs column life without band spreading or added pressure. We will have a poster at Pittcon demonstrating, by means of a performance comparison for Amino Acid Analysis, that the use of a GARD will protect the analytical column more effectively than traditional guard cartridges, is more cost-effective for the laboratory, is easy to change, and most importantly has zero band spreading.